How Mets can build out rotation after Yoshinobu Yamamoto snub

Days after Jacob deGrom left for the Rangers, Steve Cohen and then-GM Billy Eppler acted quickly.

With one ace gone and another quickly imported, the Mets signed Justin Verlander to a two-year, $86.6 million deal.

Don't expect a similar contingency plan a year later, after Yoshinobu Yamamoto accepted the Dodgers' $325 million offer over the Mets.

“We're going to be thoughtful and not impulsive and think about medium- to long-term sustainability, but we're not going to focus on getting next week's headlines,” Cohen told The Post's Mike Puma on Friday. ” he said. “I think there are several ways to build a team.”

The Mets are not expected to pair Kodai Chiga with top-notch arms like Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery, as the route of hiring an expensive secondary ace didn't work last season.

It would also be a surprise if they traded for the Brewers' Corbin Burnes (who could become a free agent after the 2024 season) or the White Sox' Dylan Cease (who would cost a fortune as a prospect) right.

Steve Cohen and the Mets did not acquire Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Club bosses have repeatedly stated that they want to maintain a “competitive edge”, if not a monopoly, without hindering the club's future in 2024.

Long-term contracts with pitchers in their 30s (like Snell and Montgomery) could weigh on the second half of the contract. Since the 2022 trade deadline, the Mets have effectively resisted using prospect capital in building out their farm system.

The only ace the Mets were expected to acquire was Yamamoto. Because the 25-year-old fit into both timelines. He has the potential to be a great player this coming season, and what the Dodgers hope will be the next 12 seasons.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto signed with the Dodgers on Thursday. AP

So how can the Mets pivot in the starting pitcher market without “grabbing the headlines”?

Perhaps a smaller addition or two will be added on a shorter contract (think Luis Severino's one year and $13 million, or Jose Quintana's two years and $26 million).

Probably a pitcher like this:

Lucas Giolito

The top of those options, the right-hander, is 29 years old and just recently earned Cy Young Award votes in 2021. However, the two years before free agency were his worst two years, as he posted a 4.89 ERA with the White Sox, Angels, and Guardians. His fastball, which peaked at 94.3 mph in 2019, dropped to 93.1 mph last season, which likely caused his second pitch to deteriorate as well (including his outstanding changeup). The Mets may be able to trust their pitching mentality and try to bounce back, but many teams will want to lock in a pitcher who was one of the best pitchers in the game not too long ago.

Lucas Giolito struggled in 2023. Getty Images

Shota Imanaga

The 30-year-old, the No. 2 Japanese pitcher on the market this offseason, spent eight years with the Yokohama DeNA BayStars before being transferred. The left-hander posted a 3.18 ERA in NPB with strong control and good strikeout numbers, but is seen more as a rotational filler than an ace. Adding Imanaga, who is used to pitching once a week, could give the Mets a chance to explore a six-man rotation.

Sean Manaea

The left-hander opted out of the final season of his contract with the Giants (worth $12.5 million) after a strange year in which he lost his starting spot in May. He moved to the bullpen, regained his form, and resumed a rotation role in September. The 31-year-old is likely getting a multi-year deal and could be an attractive addition to a Mets club that needs both starting and relief help.

Shota Imanaga could be a fallback option for teams unable to acquire Yamamoto. AP

Ryu Hyun Jin

While not the sexiest free agent, the 36-year-old has been consistent throughout his 10-season MLB career. The left-handed pitcher returned from Tommy John surgery last August and started 11 games for the Blue Jays, posting a 3.46 ERA. Hyun-jin Ryu is unlikely to be selected as an All-Star like he was in 2019, but he is a strong candidate for the rotation for a year or two.

frankie montas

Will he be reunited with Severino across town? Montas, another potential buyer, has appeared in just nine games with the Yankees since being acquired at the 2022 trade deadline and required arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder in February. The 30-year-old has top rotation players when he's at his best.

Frankie Montas is looking to bounce back from an injury-plagued period in the Bronx. Getty Images

shane bieber

The right-hander is not a free agent, but is in the final season of his contract and coming off a down season that could make him available to the Guardians. In 2023, Bieber started 21 games and posted a 3.80 ERA, but was sidelined due to elbow issues and his velocity decreased. His average fastball last season was about 3 mph slower than during his 2020 Cy Young campaign. His next pitch is about $12 million. In , Beaver could be had for less than Seeds or Burns.

other possibilities

Michael Lorenzen, Eric Lauer, James Paxton, Brandon Woodruff (may miss the 2024 season), Alex Wood